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Christopher Rappleye



Homer in South St. Louis


Time has pressed,     like lovers grown
indistinguishable,      these opposites
into the single syllable,     the way a prayer or door
marries division      to union. To cleave.  To
cleave to,       indivisibly splitting         
its own infinitive.      The sexual haft
embraced in the cold         heft of broad axe,
emblem of everything      between us.  It renders    
the distance intimate,      diminished and close.
Christ does not come      to bring peace but a sword.     
Nan-ch’uan hoists       the temple cat     
against the blade         demands a word    
beyond yes or no,        beyond one or two.     
Who hid this word      inside my world,     
sang this edge      through my flesh?     
You did        when you said,       
I do. Do I        contradict myself?     
I am undone.    This rift    
draws us together,       skin to skin.     
We touch,        as word and thing,  
sound and sense,     matter and mattering,    
not one,      not two

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“These unique ants have evolved an advanced agricultural system….They feed on special structures produced by a specialized fungus. The ants actively cultivate their fungus, feeding it with freshly-cut plant material.”

Piece by            piece                             these                     words,                                       dis-

assemble           the                                  leaf                       before                                      you,

carry                  it off                                 on                       their serifed                             feet.  

The silence      signified                              in the             empty                                      space 

held                   like                            a breath              in their mouth,                              a flag

born above      their thoughtless,   intent                  heads,

across               the margin,              up                                                                       your sleeve,

your neck.        Into                          your eye

or ear,                they bring               their prised                                                        sense

to you.              They seek               purchase             within                                    your skull.

If you                are silent,                you can hear                                                     the clattering

mandibles        even now                as they arrange

and rearrange   the stillness          there                     in the  verdant                     garden

of your mind     where                    this                       very                                       thought,

its                       threadlike              filaments             sinking                                    in                  

                                                                                                                                          even now,

takes root.

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Homer in South St. Louis

Under the upturned crescent of his brim,
green the green in green-cheese green,
his face a bright flush, his eyes bright planets.
He raises his cane, glossing a passage of Grace's
Hair Tinting, Moreales' Market, the Princess Pat
Beauty Salon and Bob's TVs.  He gets along fat lip
chinook-hooked, bobbing in the eddies
of diesel and sulfur.  He gets by
by heart. Negotiates.  Turns the beautiful
blue flames of his eyes to the radiant heaven.
The window fills with romance and noon's disasters,
the receivers senseless and livid.  Across the street
the cat stalks him from the window's useless view.
She sniffs and paws the screen while he passes
through the motion of red sports cars
filled with big-haired women.  From one white margin
to the next, untouched.  The traffic
lost in the palm of the miraculous afternoon
from which the earth turns with its quotidian,
blind, opulent, unsung.



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Christopher Rappleye lives with his wife,three children, two dogs and two cats in St. Louis, MO, where he has resided since receiving his M.F.A.W. from Washington University's Writing Program in the late 80s.  Previously he has had work accepted at The Virtual Word, River Styx, Sou'wester and Boulevard. He is currently assembling a 16-foot Hamlet puppet in his basement to battle a 50-foot long Very Hungry Caterpillar at a literary festival he is helping to organize for his children's school in the spring.

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